Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Justice Professional Learning Day: Some Insights: .

Living Justly

A Social Justice Professional Learning Day for Teachers in Catholic Schools

A few weeks ago I was involved in facilitating a social justice professional learning day, I would like to share with you some insights that came out of that day that I think are important in informing our understanding of the Contemporary Learning Schema and a contemporary pedagogical approach in Catholic Schools. One of our research schools, St Kevin’s Templestowe attended the day, so it would be interesting to see what connections they made.

The day takes its focus from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement. This year’s statement, to be released later in September asks the Catholic community to consider a response to ‘Violence in Australia’. Using the statement as a catalyst, we develop a question that shapes the content and design of the day. This year we used the following question as a provocation ‘How do we respond to, and be with brokenness, violence and suffering within our communities?’

There are a number of insights from the day that I think connect well to our work in relation to the development of contemporary and powerful student and teacher learning. Maryanne Loughry, (Associate Director of Jesuit Refugee Service, among other notable roles) offered a compelling structural analysis framework for engaging in the contemporary world. This framework represented below, guides learners to a deeper understanding of self, others and the world and leads them to discerned response around significant local and global issues. The framework positions the learner as one who seeks to understand and has concern for the human person, and positions the ‘other’ as a human person.

Structured Analysis

1. What is happening here? (gathering information, data, stories)

2. Why is it happening? (probe for causes, connections and consequences)

3. How do I evaluate? (understand the meaning in light of culture, values, community norms)

4. How do I respond? (what is my personal, collective response, my advocacy and action)

Maryanne also suggested that this structured analysis can be part of a broader critical, systematic and systemic approach to significant local and global issues. She represented this in the following way.

‘Insertion’ Contact or immersion

What is happening in this situation? Who are the poor/marginalized/disposed?

Social Analysis

Why do such conditions exist?

‘Theological reflection

What does it mean in our faith to evaluate this situation?

‘Pastoral Planning

What is our response?

Some Questions for a Catholic School.

Various questions were raised by Maryanne and others in the audience that challenged us to consider our practices and thinking.

How does this structural analysis align with our curriculum inquiries?

How do we engage in a theological/ scripture perspective within all areas of the curriculum?

What awareness do we bring to decisions about fundraising? Do we need to know more before we simply give money?

What awareness do we bring to decisions about immersion programs? Do we need to know more before we go? What is our analysis of the situation? Do they need what we want to do or give? What happens on return? Does it lead participants to ask ‘better/harder’ questions? Does it lead to a changed world view? Does it move the participants beyond the ‘exotic other’ and see the other as us?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conference Reflections

Over the next few weeks, hopefully not months, I will be posting some summary notes from the conferences I have recently attended. It might be a good way to see what is worth pursuing or sharing at a Monday meeting.

So if something excites your imagination feel free to comment or raise questions.

International Conference on Catholic Educational Leadership

Key conference themes:

A key theme of the conference was re- contextualising Catholic Education and Catholic Educational Leadership. We were challenged to re-focus and re-imagine who we are and what we do as leaders within Catholic Education. Re-focus, by being reminded of the distinctive mission of the Catholic School and to re-imagine, by understanding this mission and our role as leaders within this highly complex, diverse and pluralistic contemporary world in which we live.

The key themes of the conference can be captured in the following questions

How distinctive are we as Catholic School , a Catholic System in today’s world? As Gerald Grace asked, ‘How high is our mission integrity?

What is an authentic Catholic Education in today’s contemporary world?

What does a stance of hopefulness mean for leadership?

What are the fruits of dissonance?

How do navigate complexity, instability, unpredictability but move as one towards transformative change?

What might an aligned educational system look like?

How do we move from our default position of fear and embrace risk and failure as a pathway to transformation ?

A subtle thread that emerged through many of the key note speakers was bringing the ‘edge to the centre. ‘ I think this could be a good discussion to have!